My class and I were lucky enough to go on a school trip to Hampton Court, which is one of the 50 palaces that Henry VIII lived in during the Tudor times (although it was built by Thomas Wolsey, who was Henry’s chief minister). It was later a home for Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth and Charles II. It is also celebrating its 500th anniversary this year!
These were the highlights of my trip:
1) The Kitchen Tours
The kitchen tours were a really fun way to learn about Tudor food plus you got to touch everything you saw. But when you go, maybe don’t touch the fire!
We had a brilliant tour guide who was extremely funny and told us loads of facts. For example: did you know that instead of making 600 individual bowls of soup, the cooks built a giant hole around a metre deep and around 80 cm in width? It looked so cool.
And, did you know that a low class servant would get 4 kg of meat, two loaves of bread and four pints of beer for one meal twice a day? At feasts everything was made from sugar – the plates, cutlery and glasses, even the chessboard. After you took an opponent’s piece, you got to eat it as it was made of marzipan. Also if you had a battle ship that you loved. you could tell Henry, and his cooks would make a two metre long model of your ship out of sugar and marzipan.
The kitchen tours were one of my favourite parts of the day, but I would try and get a tour guide too, or otherwise an audio guide for the kitchens as there weren’t many boards or posters with facts on.
2) Ghost hunting
If you go to Hampton Court, be sure to look out for ghosts. Over the years there have been many ghost sightings, including three of Henry VIII’s wives, and the class who went on the trip a year before us told us that they felt the presence of one. Watch the Hampton Court video to find out more about these ghostly visitors!
The ghosts that are supposed to be there include Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard and Sybil Penn, a royal nurse who is often described as the “Grey Lady” and who looked after Elizabeth I when she fell ill from smallpox. Sybil died from the illness, but she didn’t start haunting Hampton Court until her nearby grave was disturbed in the 19th century.
Sadly we didn’t see any ghouls and the man who did the kitchen tours thought it was a bunch of utter nonsense! However, I think you should definitely look for some if you go to this iconic palace.
3) Henry’s Apartments
In Henry’s apartment there were loads of ways to find facts, by reading, doing and watching. I really liked the room where there was a screen in each corner as there was a person on each screen and they were all having a conversation. There were Tudor games to play, paintings to look at and a throne in each room. The audio guide was great as it asked you lots of questions and gave the point of view of different Tudor characters.
4) The maze
The Hampton Court maze is probably the most famous one in the world! It was planted in the 17th century when William and Mary were on the throne and more than 300,000 visit it each year. It is really good fun, but it is not very easy to get out of…
5) The Chapel and Young Henry Exhibition
For me the young Henry exhibition was not as good and not very informative, so only go to that near the end. However, I did really enjoy being in the chapel. You got to see what a proper Tudor church looked like. It was amazing.
Overall, Hampton Court was a great day, I found out so much and there were lots of places to have a little bit of fun. There was also grass as far as the eye could see.
A visit to Hampton Court to see the Palace, maze and gardens (plus audio guide, children’s trail and more) costs £19.30 per adults (£18.20 if booked online) and £9.70 for children under 16 (£9.10 if booked online). A family ticket is £48.20, or £44.90. That’s for up to two adults and three children.
It’s located in Richmond in Surrey, which is just outside London
Funnily enough, back in 1661: Charles II was crowned King on this very day! He spent his honeymoon with his wife, Katherine of Braganza, at Hampton Court.
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